Last Thrust at La Bassee, Armentieres, Arras
Failing to penetrate the Allied line between Ypres and the sea, the Germans made their final thrusts further south in the sector between Ypres and Arras. A picked force of 40,000 men had been assembled for this last effort to seize the channel ports. Supporting them was sufficient artillery, apparently, to blow all Europe into oblivion. Nevertheless, the Germans failed to pass.
Just north of the Lys River, at Armen- tieres, there was a gap in the Allied line thinly defended by French and British cavalry. For three days, beginning with October 27, the Germans had tried to force their way through without success, but at length they succeeded in pushing the Allied line back to St. Eloi, with heavy casualties on both sides. Reinforcements were hurried to the scene, and on October 31, amidst a blizzard of hail, ,vhen Gheluvelt had fallen and the British line was all but yielding, orders for an immediate advance were given. The Britishers sprang at their foes and whipped them to a standstill, turning a near victory into a defeat.
At Armentieres, on November 5, the Germans brought into play a new and terrible type of mortar which threw projectiles weighing half a ton or more. At dawn, they raked the Allied line with high angle fire, the giant shells falling plump into the British trenches. An enormous mass of infantry was then hurled against the Allied line in mass formation.
They presented a perfect target for the British riflemen, who raked their ranks with a storm of shrapnel and bullets, taking a frightful toll of death. The German lines wavered and then broke. Instantly the Britishers sprang over their parapets and charged the retreating foe with fixed bayonets. One stubborn line of Germans, covering the retreat, turned and faced the Britishers. A desperate hand-to-hand struggle took place, but the Germans were finally driven back to their own position.
An artillery duel on the most gigantic scale took pla...